By Jessica Mundawarara
Now Daily Investigation
The Zimbabwe government has spent millions of dollars on security upgrades for president Robert Mugabe’s private residence in Borrowdale, Harare, in a repeat of the Nkandla scandal that has shaken South African president Jacob Zuma.
Mugabe abandoned the official State House more than ten years ago after his wife Grace Mugabe told him she did not want to sleep in the bedroom that his late wife Sally used before she died of kidney failure in 1996. The highly superstitious Grace Mugabe also told her relatives that State House was haunted by Sally’s ‘ghost’.
Although Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba claims that Mugabe’s Zanu PF party built the mansion for him in the exclusive Borrowdale Brooke neighbourhood favoured by millionaires, government documents show that state funds were used.
Activists have now demanded that Mugabe goes back to his official residence when on duty to save government the costs of securing two residences for one person at the same time. They also said the move back to State House would save fuel and mobile security costs as it is just two kilometres away from his office while Borrowdale Brooke is 40 kilometres away. Mugabe’s entourage usually consists of dozens of Mercedes Benzes, troop carriers and an ambulace.
“Where in the world does a president refuse to live in the official residence, preferring to live in his own house? Can you imagine the American president refusing to live in the White House because his wife doesn’t like it? Mugabe is just taking us for granted,” Mark Makoni of the Zimbabwe Accountability Network told Now Daily.
Makoni said parliament should set up a commission to find out the circumstances leading to Mugabe abandoning the official residence.
A former cabinet minister said it was very inconvenient for Mugabe to work from his private house as Grace Mugabe had a tendency to pick and choose which officials could visit the president on business.
“When Mugabe lived at State House, you could visit him at any hour and wait to see him. Grace Mugabe is very superstitious and believes some people visiting her home are out to plant juju, so she doesn’t like people going there,” the former minister said.
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By Jessica Mundawarara